G-L-O-R-I-A

Gloria Steinem celebrated her 80th birthday this month, still fighting the good fight.

I became aware of Steinem probably in the fall of 1978. I had just started my first semester at UMass Amherst, at the ripe old age of 23. Let’s just say I took the scenic route to college. I snagged a work-study job at what was then called the Everywoman’s Center, a five-year-old haven for women of all kinds, but especially the atypical UMass student, the single moms returning to their education, people like me who took the scenic route to college, and women from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

In my Steinem phase. Northampton, Mass., 1979.
In my Steinem phase. Northampton, Mass., 1979.

And here I am, obviously influenced by her style, around the time I was working at the women’s center. A newly awakened, if self-conscious and inarticulate, feminist, I lived in one of the women’s movement’s Ground Zeroes: Northampton, Mass.

I wasn’t the most ardent of nascent feminists, falling somewhere between poser and bra-burner, but I did embrace some of the ideas sincerely. I helped organize Take Back the Night marches, hung banners in the student union, went to plenty of meetings. I met friends I have to this day, and still embrace those ideas. The lot of women globally is still abysmal, even with the progress we’ve seen in the industrialized world. But at a time when the Boston media crackles with talk about Jared Remy, the son of a popular Red Sox commentator, who stands accused of murdering his girlfriend, it’s apparent that attitudes die hard. More to come.

Moment in TV News

Not sure this qualifies as “favorite,” but it is memorable. Seems almost quaint these days, but the Watergate hearings were a national preoccupation in the early 70s. I actually watched the proceedings after school (that’s high school), and nobody was making me. I don’t even recall why it was so compelling, but it captured my teenage attention. Heroes and villains maybe? The roll call of characters (unaided by Wikipedia!): Sam Ervin, John Dean, Martha Mitchell, Donald Segreti, Archibald Cox, Howard Baker… The next time the nation’s attention was drawn this tightly may have been 9/11.